Mastering the Art of Growing Leek in Your Own Backyard

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Leek

Growing Leek

Leek is a vegetable from the onion family with a mild, sweet flavor and long, slender stalks. It is typically found in the grocery store in bundles with the dark green tops and the white root end still intact, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves can also be used in stocks and soups, and the leaves are often used to flavor omelets, stews, and salads. Leeks are high in Vitamins K, A and C and are a vital component of many traditional dishes.

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Cheatsheet: Growing Leeks


🌱 Start leeks indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost.

🌱 Transplant seedlings 6 inches apart in well-drained soil.


💦 Water consistently to keep soil moist, but not waterlogged.

💦 Aim for 1 inch of water per week.


🌿 Fertilize with balanced organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.

🌿 Leeks thrive in nutrient-rich soil.

Companion Plants

🌼 Plant leeks near carrots, celery, or onions.

🌼 Marigolds ward off pests and attract pollinators.


🚜 Harvest leeks when they reach 1-2 inches in diameter.

🚜 Twist and pull leeks gently to loosen from the ground.


🏺 Store harvested leeks in a cool, dark place.

🏺 Refrigerate leeks to maintain freshness for up to 2 weeks.

Health Benefits

💪 Leeks are rich in Vitamin K, essential for bone health.

💪 High in fiber, leeks support healthy digestion.

Fun Fact

🌍 The world record for the longest leek is 52 inches!

Mastering the Art of Growing Leek in Your Own Backyard

Choosing the Right Variety

When it comes to growing leek, the variety you choose makes a significant difference. I've had the best luck with 'King Richard' for an early harvest and 'Bandit' for winter hardiness.

Variety choice can influence both the flavor and the hardiness of your leeks. Some varieties, like 'King Richard', are slimmer and milder.

Preparing the Soil

Leeks thrive in fertile, well-drained soil. Before planting, I always incorporate plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.

This adds essential nutrients and improves soil structure. Aim for a soil pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.

I can't stress enough the importance of rich soil. My leeks have always thrived in soil that's been enriched with organic matter.

Planting Your Leeks

Start your seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplanting them when they're about the size of a pencil works best for me.

Space the plants about 6 inches apart in rows. This allows each leek sufficient room to grow to its full potential.

Transplanting at the right size is key. Pencil-sized seedlings give the best growth and are easier to handle.

Watering and Feeding

Leeks need consistent moisture, especially during dry spells. I water deeply once a week to ensure the soil remains evenly moist.

Applying a balanced fertilizer every few weeks keeps my leeks robust. Fish emulsion or a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer works wonders.

Proper watering and feeding can't be overstated. Inconsistent moisture can cause leeks to develop tough stalks.

Blanching for Tender White Stalks

Blanching your leeks results in tender, white stalks. I start mounding soil or mulch around the leeks when they are about 6 inches tall.

This practice keeps the stems free from sunlight, resulting in that deliciously pale stalk we all love.

Mound soil gradually to avoid burying the plant too deeply at once. This technique has always yielded the best stalks for me.

Pest and Disease Management

Keeping an eye out for pests like leek moths and thrips is part of the job. I use row covers early in the season to protect young plants.

Leeks are relatively disease-resistant, but it's still wise to practice crop rotation. I never plant leeks in the same spot more than once every three years.

Row covers are invaluable for protecting against leek moths. Prevention is far easier than dealing with an infestation.

Harvesting and Storing

Leeks are ready to harvest when they reach a usable size, generally from late summer to early winter. I use a garden fork to lift them gently.

For longer storage, I wash the leeks thoroughly and trim both the roots and the green tops before storing them in a cool, damp environment.

Lift leeks gently to avoid damage. Freshly harvested leeks can store for a week in the fridge or several months in a cool root cellar.

Final Tips

  • Start with high-quality seeds or transplants.
  • Maintain consistent moisture levels.
  • Practice crop rotation to reduce disease risks.


1. What is the ideal time to plant leek seeds?

The ideal time to plant leek seeds is in early spring.

2. How deep should leek seeds be sown?

Leek seeds should be sown about half an inch deep in the soil.

3. How far apart should leek plants be spaced?

Leek plants should be spaced about 6 inches apart.

4. How often should leek plants be watered?

Leek plants should be watered regularly, keeping the soil moist but not overly saturated.

5. When should leek plants be harvested?

Leek plants can be harvested when they reach the desired size, usually in late summer or early fall.

6. How can I protect leek plants from pests?

Using organic pest control methods, such as companion planting or applying natural repellents, can help protect leek plants from pests.

7. Do leek plants require any special care?

Leek plants require minimal care, but it is important to regularly weed around them and provide adequate water and nutrients.

Leek is an easy-to-grow vegetable that has a mild onion-like flavor and is great for adding to soup and salads. It is a cool season crop that grows best in soils that are not heavily silt or clay enriched. Leeks have high nutrient content and are known for their anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits. They are also low in calories, making it a perfect choice for cooking. With its versatility and health benefits, leek is a great addition to any garden.

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